Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Installation of OpenWRT on a Linksys 54GL

I recently installed OpenWRT on a Linksys 54GL Wireless Router so I could setup an additional gateway behind an existing internet connection. I used the OpenWrtDocs here but since I found the instructions a little unclear, I thought I would explain them a bit:

  1. Attach a network cable and plug the router into a computer so you can use the Linksys web GUI (@ http://192.168.1.1)
  2. Download the openwrt-wrt54g-squashfs.bin firmware image file from http://downloads.openwrt.org/kamikaze/8.09.1/brcm-2.4 folder or click here to download it directly.
  3. Save the file somewhere that's easily accessible.
  4. Using the same instructions provided on the OpenWrtDocs page open http://192.168.1.1/Upgrade.asp in your browser or manually browse to it.
  5. Upload the openwrt-wrt54g-squashfs.bin file
  6. Wait about 2 minutes. I think I clicked continue to reboot after about 2 minutes.
  7. You are done, now you just need to telnet to the router at 192.168.1.1
    1. Personally I like Putty for telnet but that's just me.

iPhone Tethering

Someone pointed me to this site a while ago where an iPhone user can download a mobile configuration file to their phone to allowing tethering. This works with the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G S.

Of course the benefit of this so called "hack" (mind you this is not a jailbreak) is that you can use the iPhone's internet service on a laptop or PC. Check out the video:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Maintenance Schedule / Service Log for 1998 Chevrolet Silverado

Below is the maintenance schedule for my old 1998 Chevy Silverado. At the time they separated the schedules into short trip or city miles and long trip or highway miles. I've combined them. Warning, it's a long list:

  • 3,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 6,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 7,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 9,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 12,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • For Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles only: Clean and repack the front wheel bearings (or at each brake relining, whichever occurs first).
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
  • 15,000 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 18,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 21,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 22,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 24,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 27,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 30,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • For Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles only: Clean and repack the front wheel bearings (or at each brake relining, whichever occurs first).
    • Replace fuel filter. An Emission Control Service.
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 33,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 36,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 37,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 39,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 42,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 45,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • For Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles only: Clean and repack the front wheel bearings (or at each brake relining, whichever occurs first).
    • Replace fuel filter. An Emission Control Service.
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 48,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 50,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change automatic transmission fluid and filter if the vehicles GVWR is over 8600 lbs. or if the vehicle is mainly driven under one or more of these conditions:
      • In heavy city traffic where the outside temperature regularly reaches 90*F (32*C) or higher.
      • In hilly or mountainous terrain
      • When doing frequent trailer towing
      • Uses such as found in taxi, police or delivery service
      • If you do not sure your vehicle under any of these conditions, change the fluid and filter at 100,000 miles.
      • Manual transmission fluid doesn't require change.
  • 51,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 52,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 54,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 57,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 60,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • For Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles only: Clean and repack the front wheel bearings (or at each brake relining, whichever occurs first).
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
    • Inspect engine accessory drive belt. An Emission Control Service.
    • Replace fuel filter. An Emission Control Service.
    • Conduct Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system inspection as described in the service manual. An Emission Control Service.
    • Conduct evaporative control system inspection. Check all fuel and vapor lines and hoses for proper hook-up, routing and condition. Check that the purge valve works properly (if equipped.) Replace as needed. An Emission Control Service.
    • Inspect fuel tank, cap and lines for damage or leaks. Inspect fuel cap gasket for any damage. Replace parts as needed. An Emission Control Service.
    • Rotate tires.
  • 63,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 66,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 67,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 69,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 72,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 75,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • For Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles only: Clean and repack the front wheel bearings (or at each brake relining, whichever occurs first).
    • Replace fuel filter. An Emission Control Service.
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
  • 78,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 81,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 82,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 84,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 87,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 90,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • For Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles only: Clean and repack the front wheel bearings (or at each brake relining, whichever occurs first).
    • Replace fuel filter. An Emission Control Service.
    • Vehicles With GVWR Above 8,500 lbs. Only: Inspect shields and underhood insulation for damage or looseness. Adjust or replace as required. This is a Noise Emission Control Service. Applicable to vehicles sold in the United States.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 93,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 96,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 97,500 Miles – Long Trip / Highway
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
    • Rotate Tires.
  • 99,000 Miles – Short Trip / City
    • Change engine oil and filter (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first). An Emission Control Service.
    • Lubricate chassis components (or every 3 months, whichever occurs first).
    • Check rear/front axle fluid level and add fluid as needed. Check constant velocity joints and axle seals for leaking.
  • 100,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
    • Inspect spark plug wires. An Emission Control Service.
    • Replace spark plugs. An Emission Control Service.
    • Change automatic transmission fluid and filter if the vehicles GVWR is over 8600 lbs. or if the vehicle is mainly driven under one or more of these conditions:
      • In heavy city traffic where the outside temperature regularly reaches 90*F (32*C) or higher.
      • In hilly or mountainous terrain
      • When doing frequent trailer towing
      • Uses such as found in taxi, police or delivery service
      • If you haven't used your vehicle under severe conditions listed previously any of these conditions, change the fluid and filter at 100,000 miles.
      • Manual transmission fluid doesn't require change.
    • Inspect Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve. An Emission Control Service.
  • 150,000 Miles – Short Trip / City and Long Trip / Highway
  • Drain, flush and refill cooling system (or every 60 months since last service, whichever occurs first.) Inspect hoses. Clean radiator, condenser, pressure cap and neck. Pressure test cooling system and pressure cap. An Emission Control Service.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Macbook Air Part 1 - 128GB New SSD Benchmarks


This is the first article in a three part series on MacBook Air Solid State Drive Benchmarks.

I wanted a laptop that was light, portable but more powerful than a traditional netbook which typically have sub-par screens and underpowered graphics capabilities. I did my due diligence and I landed on a MacBook Air or (MBA). My MBA's specs are:

  • 13.3-inch LED glossy widescreen
  • Max resolution 1280 by 800
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86 GHz processor
  • 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (not SODIMM; built onto the motherboard)
  • 1066MHz Front-side Bus
  • 256MB of Shared DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card
  • Built in Bluetooth
  • 128 GB Solid State Drive (13GB used by the system) – which according to Anandtech is a Samsung device.
    • Model APPLE SSD SM128, Revision VAM0BA1Q
  • Installed Mac OS X 10.5.6 (Leopard) and the upgrade for Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • Built-in iSight camera, 1 USB port, 1 mini displayport, 1 audio port, 802.11n, etc.
Before purchasing a MBA I tried to find Apple SSD Benchmarks for the included 128GB SSD hard drive but my search didn't turn up anything relevant. I had previously read the Anandtech review of Solid State Drives, most interesting was the part on Samsung drives installed by OEM's (like Apple) which are usually the worst in terms of random write performance once the Solid State has been used.

It turns out new versus used performance is something very important when evaluating solid state drives. Almost all SSDs perform well when they are brand new but because of their design (Solid State Drives read in 4KB "pages" and write in 512KB "blocks") once the drive has been filled they are forced to perform more complex read-modify-writes (instead of read-writes) which causes performance to decrease. Since I couldn't find anything out there I thought I'd do a little benchmarking myself.

I've never done benchmarks for a hard drive (or anything for that matter) and I found it very difficult to locate suitable hard drive testing software for Macs. I decided to use a few simple scenarios for testing:

  1. New Drive – running OS X 10.5.6
    1. Cold Boot Times, Shutdown Times, and Time Launching Apps including iTunes, Safari and Firefox.
  2. New Drive – running OS X 10.6
    1. Cold Boot Times, Shutdown Times, Time Launching Apps including iTunes, Safari and Firefox.
  3. Used Drive – running OS X 10.6 (elapsed time: 1 week)
    1. Same as #2
  4. Formatted Drive – Dual boot with OS X 10.6 and Windows 7 (elapsed time: > 4 months)
    1. Same as #2 minus the Benchmark Apps, Windows 7 Performance Index
In order to have true benchmarks I needed something to compare, so for my SSD benchmark tests I compared basic times of the new versus used drives for the operations listed above. I also compared the used times versus a reformatted system to see if formatting an SSD returned it to a "new" state.

In order to recreate a "used" drive and its performance measurements, I copied a bunch of files to the MBA's hard drive until it there was no space left (actually there was about 500KB available). Then I deleted the files. I thought this would ensure the SSD's performance would match a drive that had been completely written to since each flash block had been filled with data.

The Initial Results:

  1. Brand New Drive - running OS X 10.5.6
    1. Cold Boot Time was about 27.3 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 4.1 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 4 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1 second
      3. Firefox was about 1 second
  2. Brand New Drive - running Snow Leopard - OS X 10.6
    1. Boot Time was about 29.3 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 2.3 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 1.5 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1.4 seconds (40% increase)
      3. Firefox was about 2 seconds (100% increase)
  3. Used Drive - running Snow Leopard (elapsed time: 1 week later)
    1. Boot Time was about 31 seconds
    2. Shutdown Time was about 1.9 seconds
    3. Time Launching Apps
      1. iTunes was about 2.1 seconds
      2. Safari was about 1.75 seconds
      3. Firefox was about 2.3 seconds
I also ran a few benchmark programs on the new hard drive but didn't run them on the "used" (and still haven't).

  1. CineBench - Rendering (1CPU) 1572 CB-CPU, Rendering (x CPU) 1143 CB-CPU, Multiprocessor Speedup: 0.73x, OpenGPL Standard 2512 CB-GFX
    1. OpenGL Standard Test CB 2512
    2. Single CPU Render Test CB 1572
    3. Multiple CPU Render Test CB 1143
  2. GeekBench - Geekbench Score: 2661
    1. Processor integer performance: 2095
    2. Processor floating point performance: 3710
    3. Memory performance: 2357
    4. Memory bandwidth performance: 1583
As you can see from the initial results the "used" SSD (after about a week of testing) didn't have a very big performance decrease. In hindsight I probably should have tried to encode a video or mp3, something that would require writing to the hard drive in large amounts of data. Although the times for launching a few applications increased it wasn't a big slowdown.

After I formatted the drive, put Windows 7 on it and used it for a few months I noticed a much more dramatic decrease in performance. Check out the subsequent results.


Related Articles:
Macbook Air SSD Part 2
Macbook Air SSD Part 3
Macbook Air vs. Macbook Pro SSD

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Macbook Air making noise / Dissected

About a month ago I noticed an intermittent noise coming from my Macbook Air (MBA) that sounded like something was rubbing or scratching the inside of the computer. It wasn't quite a buzz or hum. This gave me reason for concern since my MBA is less than 3 months old and has a solid state drive, which means it couldn't (shouldn't) be my hard drive. In fact I imagined there weren't too many moving parts on such a small laptop.

A quick Google searched turned up an Apple Support Discussion about the subject here.

It started occurring regularly yesterday so at the suggestion of one of my coworkers I "dissected" my MBA by removing the case and checking the fan. As I pressed on the fan to determine if that was the cause of the noise and it snapped back into its proper alignment. Take a look for yourself at the fan in my MBA:


As I noticed the fan is probably the moving parts inside the newer Macbook Air's - especially with a solid state installed. Since I had the MBA dissected (at least the cover off) I decided to browse over it's internal components and check to see if I could find the RAM chips.

I assumed when I purchased my Macbook Air that I would be able to upgrade the memory at a later date. I mean 2GB isn't very much to start with. My assumption was the Macbook Air would use standard SODIMM chips that could be upgraded at any time. I was definitely surprise when I saw this:



Anandtech has a much clearer picture here.

The photos show the RAM is actually built onto the motherboard (logic board) in the MBA, for what I can only assume is to save space. That means this and all other Macbook Air's memory cannot be upgraded. No memory upgrades - Bummer!

Note: This may only be a temporary fix for the noise problem because once the fan is out of place it may continue to slip / fall out when the Macbook is flipped over for normal use. At this point it might be worth taking back to Apple and having them replace the fan.

Update on Sunday, April 4, 2010:

After "fixing" this issue a few times myself I could still hear the scratching sound so I decided to take my MBA into the Apple store and let the "geniuses" fix it. Of course the problem wasn't occurring during my appointment but I told them exactly where the problem was and the fan needed replacing. About a day later I had my MBA back and it hasn't made the sound since.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Atomic Unit of Online Consumption

I keep seeing the phrase "Atomic Unit of Consumption" or "Atomic Unit of Online Consumption" in regards to the disruption occurring in old media (aka Newspaper, Music and Cinema). Most recently I was reading Eric Schmidt's Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal and the Google Operating System blog on Atomic Unit of Online Consumption. Both articles make for a interesting read, especially the former because of Google's description of how consumption for existing media has changed over time.

While Atomic Unit of Consumption sounds good, an atomic unit is actually a unit of measurement (a way to measure) used in certain branches of science like physics. Of course that's probably why Google coined the term Atomic Unit of Consumption. They employ a lot of engineers and scientists!

Monday, November 30, 2009

New iPhone in development

I just finished reading this article in Wired about the possibility of new iPhone in development. While the specifics on the new phone are nonexistent it does bring up some interesting questions:

- Will this phone finally offer multitasking?
- Will Apple replace Google's in house apps with their own? e.g. Maps, YouTube.
- How will Apple handle customers who want to upgrade their phones?

The last question is probably the most important to me. As a current iPhone 3G user, I was basically barred from upgrading to the iPhone 3GS through a combination of my contract and monthly service fee weren't long/high enough. I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TortoiseSVN on Windows 7 x64 says svn can't move \tmp\entries corrupted and unreadable

I'm running TortoiseSVN on Windows 7 64-bit and I kept getting an error and fail message "svn can't move \my directory structure\tmp\entries". Then it would say the file or directory was corrupted and unreadable. However I was able to get around this problem a number of times by doing another SVN update.

It turns out there is a problem with Windows 7 64-bit, TortoiseSVN and anti-virus scanners. If you shut your anti-virus scanner off everything works just fine.

In my case I'm running Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), which of course doesn't have a shutdown option. To shutdown MSE you have to go into Windows Services and select "Stop" to manually shutdown Microsoft Antimalware Service.

Good times.

Windows 7 Tricks

I found this link earlier today for Windows 7 tricks: 20 top tips and tweaks from Computerworld.

Most of the time I don't find these tips useful, however this time I did find a few:

1. Use hidden international wallpapers and themes. By browsing to C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT any Windows 7 user can find hidden international themes. Instead of installing the individual themes from Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, etc. I just copied the images to a new folder called "International" and created my own theme.

2. Power efficiency report. This hidden tool built into Windows 7 was very cool. I ran it on my laptop which has Windows 7 Ultimate and now I just need to interpret the results and make advanced changes to my power options.

3. Added Search the Internet to the Start Menu. Vista had this set by default but Windows 7 doesn't. I knew it was in the Group Editor so this just reminded me to make the change. Go to the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc), User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar > and then activate "Add Search Internet link to Start Menu".

4. Speeding up the display of thumbnails on the taskbar. This was another cool little tweak only now made in the registry - more for looks than anything else. Launch the Registry Editor (regedit), go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse, double click MouseHoverTime and change the default value to less than the default 400 milliseconds.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Google Wave Preview

I was extended an invitation to Google's Wave preview yesterday and have since spent my free time playing around with it. Luckily I've got a few friends and coworkers also evaluating the preview so I've got a small user base in which to try out the new features. So far the jury's still out on deliberation. What do I mean by that?

Well...

I started the application in IE8 which required me to down the Google Wave Framework. So I moved to chrome and made an Application Shortcut for it. When it launches it's pretty slow to load. I like sleek messaging / wave interface and the ability to see what the other person is typing. I don't like little option menu when I want to edit a message. What happened to just clicking on the message? Also the settings are still under construction and uploads also take forever. Also what is the point of pinging someone? Isn't that essentially like creating a wave with someone?

Mostly what I'm still deliberating on is wave's ACTUAL use. I've heard there are videos showing users creating collaborative documents, which could essentially replace Google Docs. But other than creating documents and chatting, what else?

I guess only time will tell. In the meantime you'll find me on it periodically through the day so say hi.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Recovering iPhone Music Videos and Pictures

A few months ago my laptop crashed and I lost, among other things, a lot of photos. Luckily I had a ton of data on my iPhone including music, videos and of course photos of friends and family that I needed to get back to my laptop. The problem is how do you recover or transfer media from the iPhone back to the computer?

I found a torrent version of this program called CopyPod a while ago, I installed it and was able to transfer music back to my computer. It was important that I get the rest of my media off of my iPhone and it just so happened the new version of CopyPod, now called CopyTrans, had related programs that would transfer pictures and videos. I ended up downloading and paying for the suite called CopyTransSuite. It was a little expensive but it worked like a charm.

If you have the same problem I'd recommend at last trying the trial version of the software. I used the trial version of CopyTrans Photo and it worked great, it just had the watermarks on the images (because of the trial period).

Better Free AntiVirus

One of my coworkers just pointed this program out to me and I've since downloaded it for both my personal laptop and my work desktop. I had been using the free anti-virus program called AVG. Now I'm officially using Microsoft Security Essentials as my anti-virus program.

It integrates great with Windows 7. It has a clean interface, runs in the background so it doesn't bog down your processor when you're using the computer and it's free.

Check it out here: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/default.aspx

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Installing SQL Server 2005 on Windows 2008

I just installed SQL Server 2005 Standard, using our MSDN discs, onto Windows Server 2008 Standard deployment and it worked successfully after a few tries. However I took two tries to install SQL Server; the first time it installed the Configuration Tools and the second time it installed everything else. Regardless, here are a few tips to remember:

The first thing was the order for merging the MSDN discs (two separate discs that must be combined before installing). The trick is to rip disc 2 to a folder and then rip and replace the files with disc 1. If you use the wrong discs you get an error like "Try the installation again using a valid copy of the installation package 'sqlncli.msi'."

The second thing to remember is that when you install SQL Server 2005 onto Windows 2008, which isn't a problem in Windows 2003, you must use a complex password for the database password otherwise it fails.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Installing a Suunto Vytec dive computer on Windows 7

I just installed Suunto's Dive Manager 2.6 software on my laptop (Windows 7 Ultimate) when I couldn't get it to recognize my Suunto Vytec dive computer because the drivers were incorrect. Each of the separate downloads from Suunto's website didn't work so I decided to use Windows 7's trouble shooting features.

I'm happy to say Windows 7 was able to do a quick Windows Update search and find and install the correct drivers. Now I'm up and running like I was when I had Vista and XP installed. For once Windows works in my favor!

Suunto Vytec Official Site

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Google AJAX API Wizards

When I was building ChrisKenst.com I wanted a way to add the recent feeds from my two blog sites (including this one). I couldn't remember the previous site I used but I remember the wizard was customizeable. I did a quick search and that's when I found Google AJAX Feed API.

All you do is go to the Dynamic Feed Control Wizard click the Start with Wizard link, enter the name of your blog or website with the rss feeds you want and Google with find the exact URLs for you. Lastly click the Generate Code button and copy and paste the code into your website.


Looks like Google has a number of cool AJAX API's in Google Code that might be worth checking out.

Installing and Configuring AD LDS on Windows 2008

On Windows Server 2008 ADAM (Active Directory Application Mode) has been changed to AD LDS (Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services). Personally I like the name ADAM better than AD LDS, I guess it just rolls off the tongue a little easier. Installing AD LDS on Windows 2008 is a bit different than installing ADAM on Windows 2003 because you no longer go to Add / Remove Programs and then Windows Features.

To install AD LDS go to Server Manager > Roles > Add A Role > Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services > and follow the instructions. To remove AD LDS you can use Add / Remove Programs just like with ADAM. Once AD LDS is installed it will appear under the Administrative Tools folder as Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services Setup Wizard, ADSI Edit (formerly ADAM ADSI edit) and Active Directory Sites and Services instead of in its own ADAM program folder.

To create a new instance click on Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services Setup Wizard in All Programs > Administrative Tools and follow the on screen wizard. These screens look similar to the screens found in ADAM so the setup process should be exactly the same.

The Connection Settings window in ADSI Edit was a little bit different than in ADAM but serves the same purpose. One difference I noticed was when I set up a connection I had to specify the computer as localhost under "Select or type a domain or server" whereas this was setup by default in ADAM.

It's good to see not everything changed, the C:\Windows\ADAM folder still exists in Windows 2008. If you need to import a database schema you'll notice there is no ADAM Tools Command Prompt link, instead open a regular command prompt window and change to the C:\Windows\ADAM directory to do your import.

Anyone who is comfortable with setting up an ADAM connection in Windows Server 2003 should be able to setup AD LDS in Windows Server 2008.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Disposable URLs

I found this cool little site called VapURL (that's pronounced Vape URL) which allows you to create shortened temporary URLs from any address you can think of. I was browsing Hacker News when I came across this article detailing the application. Short URLs have become common place thanks to TinyURL.com but I think disposable URLs could be increasingly handy in a world where everything we do is monitored.

This is especially true if you work for a large corporation that WebSense's your internet traffic or monitors your instant message communication. Want to send something that's NSFW (not safe for work)? Well then do it with a disposable URL so no onlookers will ever notice!

Again the address is http://www.vapurl.com.

Updated 6/14/2010:

VapURL is officially dead. Apparently the service became very popular with spammers because they could embed shortened URL's (from services like TinyURL) into the service and hide their intentions from potential victims. Eventually GoDaddy pulled the site.

Check out the news from A Broken Thought's official blog post here. Aaron says it was a good learning experience if nothing else.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Deleting a EISA Partition

This posting was taken from Ultimate Ultra Mobile PC Blog and modified:

Most consumer computers these days have their drives partitioned: one for primary use and another for restoration. Often this is a partition that you can't access because it contains restore / backup data. Fortunately for most users new hard drives are large enough that you likely don't need the space; unless you're like me and want every bit that you paid for. Worst is if you have an older computer with less space and roughly 10% of your available hard drive space is gone before you begin putting anything of your own on it. Lucky for you I can tell you / show you how to remove it! You can remove the partition if you want more space and have another way to backup / restore your computer. If you don't, you might want to leave it. It's also a good idea to do this when you first get your computer because it will require reinstalling your Operating System.

Tools Needed: External USB CD/DVD Drive, Original Operating System Discs (Windows XP or Vista), a pre-Vista Windows Disc like XP or 2000, and a USB Keyboard. (I haven't tried this with Windows 7).

Note: I did this on my Samsung Q1 and the partition was an EISA partition. You can determine this by going to the start menu > right clicking on Computer > click on Manage > Click on Disk Management under Storage. You will probably have two Discs 0 and 1. The C drive will be installed on Disc1 (which is the second partition) and a blank drive letter for Disc0 (which is the restore partition). An EISA partition is not recognized by Vista and cannot be deleted by Vista, hence the need for XP or 2000 discs! (I'd assume the same problem exists for Windows 7 and/or any OS after Vista.) See the following article by Microsoft:

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=242168

First you want to restart your computer and go into the boot settings. You need to change your boot settings to boot to the CD Drive first, instead of the hard drive. When you exit and restart, make sure the pre-Vista Disc (I used a Windows XP bootable disc) and boot into the setup.

Next, after the XP setup process (or whatever OS you used) has loaded; it will recognize both the EISA partition and your regular partition. From here you can delete both partitions (by pressing L) which will create one large non-partitioned drive that can then be partitioned into a single NTFS drive. Once the formatting is over Windows will want to start loading files onto the drive; it's at this point you can basically shut off the computer without any damage.

Now reinstall your operating system of choice and your EISA partition will be there again. Remember that if you are removing a backup partition to burn the backup or restore discs first. As always questions and comments are appreciated.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Installing OKI 5100n drivers on Windows 7 64-bit

This process was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. Of course the hardest part was finding the correct driver. To install your OKIDATA 5100n laser printer on Windows 7 (64bit version) download the English C5100n GDI Driver for Windows XP x64 Edition / Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition. The Windows Vista x64 edition didn't work.

Go here to download the driver. Extract the drivers somewhere and then install your printer.

Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode

I've been playing around with Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP Mode (the most recent versions are still the RCs found here). I'm not sure when to expect the final versions of these programs since they didn't ship with Windows 7 Ultimate (at least not the RTM available to MSDN subscribers). Regardless the installation and running of the Windows Virtual PC is pretty effortless and I really like how quick the virtual machine is and how simple the layout is.

Only certain types of computers can run Windows Virtual PC. It uses direct hardware support for virtual machines which means your computer's BIOS must support hardware virtualization. My dell laptop does. My gateway 64 bit work computer does not. After you install Windows Virtual PC you will be required to reboot your computer.

You can launch Windows XP by going to Start > All Programs > Windows Virtual PC > Windows XP Mode, which will launch the virtual machine right away, or go to Your User\Virtual Machines and launch the virtual machine directly. If you decide to launch Windows Virtual PC you can either choose the start menu option or go to the Virtual Machines folder in Windows and you will notice the functions have been integrated into Windows Explorer for that folder. Kind of cool!

It's interesting to note how smart / tricky Microsoft is being with this "XP Mode" virtual machine. Essentially Microsoft has offered to "bundle" (I use that term loosely) a free virtual machine program (originally called Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and then 2007) now called Windows Virtual PC for free in the Business and Ultimate versions of Windows. They also include a full working version of Windows XP which many business and power users have become accustom to. This increases the number of deployments for Windows Virtual PC, increases sales of Windows 7 Ultimate and Business and keeps a large number of deployments in place for Windows XP. Who wouldn't want a free version of Windows XP just in case something doesn't run correctly on Windows 7? I know I do!

It's also interesting to note that Windows Virtual PC isn't considered an application or program by Windows 7 standards. It's considered a feature. Which means in order to uninstall (remove) Windows Virtual PC, you have to:
1. Go into Programs and Features
2. Click the Turn Windows Features on or off button
3. Scroll down and remove Windows Virtual PC

It's much easier to remove the Windows XP Mode virtual machine, just go to Programs and Features and remove it like any other windows program.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

HTTP Persistenace

I was recently looking for the HTTP connection limits (persistent connections) each web browser has. Turns out IE8 now uses 6 by default instead of the normal 2 connections specified by HTTP.

Here's the Wikipedia article.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sun's Virtual Machine VirtualBox

I downloaded and installed Sun's VirtualBox virtual machine software in my bid to test alternative virtualization software besides VMware. (Has anyone looked at Hyper-V?)


I was a little surprised during the installation when it warned me VirtualBox was going to re-configure my network connection and that I would loose internet access while this occurred. Neither VMware nor Virtual PC had to do that. I proceeded with the installation and I haven't begun using it yet but I noticed I couldn't connect to a local server for a game of Battlefield 1942. (I know battlefield is old but it's a great game!) My firewall has an open connection for the game and yet I was only able to connect to a local server by disabling the "VirtualBox Host-Only Network" adapter in Network Connections.

Has anyone else run into network problems with VirtualBox?

The World's Wildest Wearable Gadgets

This was a cool article from Technologizer about the wildest wearable gadgets. I've seen a few of these items around before, a few of them were very cool including the Disposable Nail Watch by Timex and most of them were completely weird. Anyways take a look.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Print Windows system information on your Desktop

For a while now I've been using a program that prints my Windows system information on my desktop. I use it on all my servers so I can quickly see what user I'm logged in as, my IP addresses, IE Version number, computer name, etc. It's very handy when you're bouncing around from system to system or have multiple RDP sessions open.

Someone just asked me today what program I use; it's called BgInfo from Sysinternals. Just download the program here, extract it, put the file somewhere permanent (I put it in C:\), then create a shortcut of BgInfo.exe and place it in your Startup folder. Now edit the shortcut and add '/timer:0' after the path in the 'Target' field so the Bginfo program doesn't popup each time you start the computer. Bginfo will now execute when your computer boots and the system information is always there!

Monday, July 20, 2009

MSDN Operating System Subscription vs. TechNET Plus

As a software tester I need to have access to a wide range of Operating Systems, web browsers, application software, etc. so I'm not caught off guard when someone comes at me with an issue. I configure virtual machines with different flavors of Windows like Vista, XP, 2003 Server, 2008 server and many of them have different configuration types so that I can easily start a session, test and then be done.

If there comes a time when I don't have access to these software applications at work or my job demands that I work from home, I found there were a few options. One I could purchase an MSDN Operating System subscription at $699 for the first year and $499 each additional year. Two I could purchase an TechNET Plus subscription at $349 for the first year and $249 each additional year.


The MSDN Operating System subscription basically gives me access to some 231 products that revolve around "Operating System, SDK, DDKs and tools". Products that I would use revolve around Windows XP, Vista, SharePoint, Home Server, Virtual PC, Storage Server (?), 7, 8 Beta (when it comes out), Internet Explorer, etc. I get fully licensed versions that can be used for testing purposes.


Then theres the TechNET Plus subscription which gives me a broader range of products including Windows 2008, 2003, Vista, XP but it also includes SQL Server, Office, and application servers like BizTalk, Groove, SharePoint server, etc. The catch with TechNET is you only get Beta and Full-version evaluation products. However these full-version evaluation products don't have time limits.

So what would be better for a software tester? I'm kind of leaning to the Operating System subscription because it would provide me with a set of core tools for testing. On the other hand it would be nice to have broad access to Microsoft software. Perhaps I should just get both? Anyone have any thoughts?

Add / Remove Windows Components error 0x7e wbemupgd.dll

I was trying to install an ADAM instance by going to Add / Remove Windows Components in a Windows Server 2003 deployment when I came across a "Setup library wbemupgd.dll could not be loaded, or function OcEntry could not be found. Contact your system administrator. The specific error code is 0x7e." Here is a picture of the error:



I found the following Microsoft Help and Support page and followed Method 2. Then I restarted Windows and everything worked correctly. Thanks Microsoft!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Microsoft Origami 2.0

This was originally posted to the Ultimate Ultra-Mobile PC blog:

Microsoft Origami comes preinstalled on a lot of Ultra Mobile PCs including my Samsung Q1U-V. Unfortunately however it came pre-installed with the prior version 1.0, so I downloaded the latest version from Microsoft here.
  • To install this program, remove the Microsoft Origami Experience 1.0 from the Add/Remove or Program and Features section of the Control Panel.

  • From there, run the installer that you downloaded from Microsoft.
The Microsoft Origami Experience 2.0 is a touch orientated user interface designed to enhance the users interaction with an Ultra Mobile. It has four major areas:

  • Origami Central
  • Origami Now
  • Picture Password
  • Touch Settings
Let me first talk about my favorite (and coolest) feature the Picture Password. The reason this is my favorite feature of Origami 2.0 is because it has the most appropriate use in a Touch Screen environment. If you are using an UMPC you probably don't have much of a keyboard and if you have an Samsung Q1, the keyboard you have is small. So this feature makes entering your password incredibly easy and fun. See below:


For this to work, you tap a series of pictures that will unlock your device instead of typing a password.

The Touchscreen Settings are in Origami make it easier for the user to integrate touch screen capabilities into Windows Vista. This feature is nothing special but it does offer some customization, which with Windows is a huge plus.

Origami Central is basically a landing page that gives you access to media, internet and programs with the touch of a finger - almost exactly in a Windows Media Center type screen. See below:


This is a screen capture of the Internet tab. It looks nice here, but when displayed on a screen that is 1024 x 768 the images are a bit pixelated making it look a bit cheap. When you click on the Browser icon, it launches Microsoft Internet Explorer inside the Origami Experience and after a few uses I found to be a bit more clumsy to do with your finger than with the mouse feature built into the Q1.

Perhaps I'm used to browsing the web with a mouse or just in Windows and using my finger to scroll, but my take away was this interface didn't really enhance my experience. The Feeds Menu is a graphical list of feeds in boxes that you can click on. Again it didn't really enhance my UMPC experience.

I was most perplexed / upset with Origami Now which gives you a display of information in large graphical "gadgets". You can add a clock or notepad or rss feeds or calendar to this display and move them around until your comfortable. However none of these features was truly revolutionary (I can add all that stuff to my sidebar) and they all require that it sync with Microsoft Outlook. I use Outlook for everything, but because Origami needs that information when it starts, it automatically starts Outlook when the computer boots up, which makes me close it out when I start using Windows.

Origami Now didn't offer anything of value to my UMPC touch screen experience. In the end it was all duplicate features. I felt the same way with Origami Central. Why not combine all that stuff into Windows Media Center? Afterall you can only run Origami on Windows Vista and I hate hate hate having duplicate features or software. That's exactly why I removed the Samsung AV Software. Origami also seemed to crash quite a bit (buggy MS software) and that's just annoying.

In the end Microsoft Origami Experience 2.0 offers a lot of redudant features that don't enhance the users experience of Windows or it's possible touch screen capabilities. The picture password is the best feature it installs and I can only hope the next version (if there is a next version) adds far more value or integrates into Windows much better!

Samsung Update Error Plus Round 2

This was originally posted to Ultimate Ultra-Mobile PC blog:

I've noticed a lot of people having the same issue with Samsung's Update Plus software: dwLoadStatus != SLU_Load_Finished. I contacted Samsung a while back but I never heard anything, so I decided to contact them again. After trading a few emails here is what they had to say about the issue:

"Dear Chris Kenst
Thank you for contacting Samsung Electronics. We will gladly be able to try and assist you with your Ultra Mobile PC, that you are inquiring about today.

I do apologize for your ongoing issue. I have checked with our engineers on the Update plus software and they said that there are no updates available for any Samsung program at this time. I also made them aware of the issue and once I get a responce back from them, I can give you an update. Thank you and have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Matt"

I got this response yesterday on 11/3/2008. That's about all I can do, right? Hopefully they filed the issue somewhere and it will eventually be fixed.

Gateway m275 Convertible Tablet PC Review

This was originally posted to the Ultimate Ultra-Mobile PC blog:

I purchased the Gateway m275 Convertible Tablet PC when it initially came out because it was the best of both worlds: Laptop and Tablet PC. I wanted the ability to write handwritten notes for class and yet still wanted to be able to type notes. The m275 was the full tablet experience without the drawbacks.

I would walk into class open the Tablet PC, turn it on, swivel the screen around and lock it into position, then rotate the screen to comfortable position to write. It was a really cool product when it came out and always turned heads in class. This was around the same time Microsoft Office debuted OneNote which was / still is perfect for taking notes because of its layout and ability to transform my handwritten notes into text.


However there were a few downsides in the design:

  • The entire computer weighed about 6 pounds which even for a laptop was heavy. It was especially heavy for a tablet which averaged around 3 pounds.
  • The stylus (located on the side of the computer) was prone to breaking making it hard to clip in and fall out.
  • The swivel was known to wear out and break especially if you didn't carefully toggle it. When I purchased the m275 I opted for the accidental damage since the swivel wasn't covered under original warranty. I wasn't always careful when toggling it and I had to have it replaced.
  • The bezel around the LCD would scratch and show wear and tear rather easily. I ended up purchasing a better one on eBay and replaced it.

It's amazing that you can still find these things on eBay. I wouldn't want one now given the advancements coming in touch screen and Windows 7, but having a Tablet PC is something I've wanted to revisit ever since I got rid of the m275. Maybe someday it will come true.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Installing Synergy on Mac Mini OS X

I've set this up twice: once for my Mac Mini at home: hooked up to my LCD TV so I can play DVDs and watch movies; once at work so I can test on Macintosh OS X Operating System. I did this because it's so difficult to find and run OS X on a Virtual Machine and I had the hardware. (Pretty soon I'll need something that can run Google's new Operating System!)

By installing Synergy on my Desktop PC (Windows XP Professional at work and Windows Vista Ultimate at home) and on my Mac Mini (OS X), I can share my mouse and keyboard between the two. My monitors easily accept two monitor connections so no need for a KVM switch. This setup will work with any PC and Mac as long as you're using OS X.

Note: I leave a mouse plugged into each machine so I can start Synergy after the computer goes to sleep, gets turned off, needs to be woken from sleep, etc. A wireless mouse works well.

Requirements:
1. You should already have Synergy downloaded and installed on your PC.
2. It should be configured for all existing machines.
- If you want to know how to install Synergy on your PC then let me know and I will blog about it.

Preparation Steps:
1. Download the Synergy Client for OS X here (this will start the download for the binaries).
2. Download the Synergy GUI for OS X here (this will start the download for the program).
3. Extract each of the downloaded files.

Installation Steps:
4. Run the OsXSnyergyGui application.
5. It should ask for the location of the synergy client application. Browse to the path of your recently extract synergy folder (mine is called synergy-1.3.1) and select syngeryc.
6. The OS X Synergy GUI application should now appear. It displays the path to synergyc and asks for a Server IP Address if you are on the Client tab (you should be).

PC Configuration Steps:
7. Start Synergy on your Desktop PC using the "Share this computer's keyboard and mouse (server)" option.
8. Click Configure
9. Under the Screens area, click the '+' button and add the name of the Mac Mini to the list. (This has to be the exact name of the computer or it won't connect.)
10. Under the Links area, add the position of your Mac Mini.
11. Click OK.
12. Start Synergy on your PC.

Mac OS X Configuration Steps:
13. In OS X Synergy GUI, enter the IP Address for the computer you just started Synergy on.
14. Click Start
15. If everything is setup correctly the GUI will say something like "NOTE: started client" and "NOTE: connected to server".

You should be all setup. If you're like me and don't want the distraction, hide the OS X Synergy GUI window and go about your work.

If anyone has problems or feedback, please let me know and I will try to incorporate the changes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pictures of my Samsung Q1 with Windows 7

I promised these photos of Windows 7 running on my UMPC a while ago:

This is a picture of my Samsung Q1 with Windows 7 running. You can see the desktop with the Beta Fish (one of my favorite backgrounds) and the new taskbar. If you look closely you can also see the Windows 7 build information in the lower right hand corner!

With Windows Vista installed my Ultra Mobile has a Windows Experience Index of 2.0. As you can see with Windows 7 it only has a 1.5 rating, which means either Windows 7 didn't like the drivers or that Windows 7 is a little more intense in terms of it's requirements. Microsoft has stated the minimum requirements are the same, so I would venture to say the drivers may not be perfect. Does anyone know if Samsung plans to support drivers later than Windows Vista on their Q1s?
I wonder if other manufacturers of UMPCs will support Windows 7...? With Windows 7 going to be out near the holiday season and Windows 8 on a time line for 2011, I think were up for an exciting time in the Ultra Mobile world! The last picture I took shows My Computer with how much hard drive space the basic Windows 7 install took up.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Air compressor screeching on 2001 Chevy Tahoe

Last summer I had a problem that seemed to only occur when I would put the engine under stress (like accelerating) while running the air conditioner and then later on whenever I would start the A/C. I would hear a screeching sound, not like a belt screeching, more like something was loose in the engine. I have a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe 4 wheel drive with a 305 HP Vortec V8 Engine and at the time it had about 60,000 miles on it. Eventually I took the Tahoe into a shop and when they called back to tell me the problem the compressor had to be replaced at a cost of around $1,000. (Maybe I should have used a dealer).

It turns out the compressor was tearing itself apart from the inside out, caused by broken / loose metal. I’m not sure how this originally happened but this loose metal began to strip the rest of the insides making it hard to cool and making it very noisy, hence the screeching sound. Now that I have a repair manual, I know every 5 years or 60,000 miles I’m supposed to have the air compressor service. Maybe if I had done that around the first 60,000 miles I might have been able to catch the problem before it got worse.

This isn’t exactly a technology issue, except that if there were a better place to track vehicles and their maintenance requirements, a lot of these types of problems could be avoided. I’m surprised GM hasn’t come up with a site on their own; better maintained vehicles over the long run could be a marketable advantage!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Samsung Update Plus Error

This was originally posted to the Ultimate Ultra-Mobile PC blog:

When I had initially installed my Q1U-V software Samsung's Update Plus worked fine. Somewhere down the line it stopped working and I started receiving an error whenever I click "Search for New Updates".


dwLoadStatus != SLU_Load_Finished

I've attempted to reinstall the program a view times to no avail. There aren't any previous versions online, so I may have to go back to my Samsung Resource CD to try and find it. I'll post later when I figure out if that works!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Turn off IIS Logging while performance / load testing

I was recently running some performance / load tests when I got a warning from windows that the my test machine's hard drive was running out of space. I was caught off guard since the system capacity is around 148GB, there were less than 4GB of installed programs (including the OS) and now there was only 9.8MB remaining. I ran WinDirStat and found the C:\WINNT\system32\LogFiles\W3SVC1 file had grown dramatically, in fact I had a number of .log files that were 9GB in size. As it turns out IIS logging was enabled and all of the traffic the load generators were sending were being logged over a period of about 18 hours, hence 140GB of log files.

My warning is turn off IIS logging while performance testing. To disable it: Control Panel > Administrative tools > IIS > Web Sites > Right click on Default Web Site > Properties. On the bottom of the initial Web Site tab will be 'Enable logging'. When enabled click Properties > You should see at the bottom of the General tab the log file directory that has exploded in size. Mine was saving to C:\WINNT\system32\LogFiles\W3SVC1 and WS3VC2.

Close the window and uncheck 'Enable logging' to disable it. Restart IIS. Delete all of the log files in the directory since they only contain traffic data. It might be a good idea to defrag your disk if it was at capacity.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

HP MediaSmart EX 485 Home Server - No Monitor Port

I purchased my new HP MediaSmart EX 485 Home Server yesterday from Fry's and it seems like a great system with just one problem, no monitor port.

HP has a sense of humor. They give you the Operating System restore discs (which I prefer over a hard drive partition) but the server has NO drives and no monitor port! Hahaha, HP you're funny! While I understand this system was made to simply plug in and work, what if I want to make changes? Or what if I need to reinstall the operating system?

My plan is to take the 750GB pre-installed drive and replace it with a 1TB drive. The MediaSmart EX 485 Home Server makes it simple to install a lot more drive space but whatever drive you install the OS onto it essentially becomes irremovable. I have a spare CD drive and I should be able to pick up a USB to VGA adapter on the cheap. Once I attempt this swap and if I'm successful I will blog about the process so other people can upgrade their servers without a hiccup!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Analysis Paralysis

Ever find yourself in a 2 hour development meeting and it seems like you were only productive for about 30-45 minutes of that? Your meeting may face Analysis Paralysis. Check it out here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hosted Documents

Microsoft Office Live and Google Docs both host your documents online so it's easier for you to manage them and it reduce the problems that exist with multiple differing versions. Of course the downside to this comes when you don’t have access to those documents and/or the internet. I’m sitting here writing my blog post in Microsoft Word because I’m moving and our internet has officially been cut off. I can’t work on any of my todo items because they are stored online. While we are less and less likely to run across times when we can’t get to the internet (I could always go into work) it is still an inconvenience that we must deal with. Oh good times!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mac OS X on a Virtual Machine

Is it really a lot to ask Apple for a Macintosh OS X virtual machine? I came across this article in ars technica that Parallels said it's possible to put OS X on a virtual machine but currently they won't do it as Apple's EULA forbids it. On top of that Apple is known for being fickle with it's vendors and Parallel's doesn't want to piss them off. I can't say I blame them.

I've got a Mac Mini that I don't use much and honestly I got it for the OS - the cool little hardware, that I've since put Vista on, was just an added bonus. I've got the OS discs, I've got VMware Workstation and I think it's time to figure out a way to install one on the other. I'll let everyone know how it goes!

Update on 07/07/2009:
The inner workings of getting Mac OS X to run on a virtual machine are incredibly complex as I found on OSX86Project.com.

I continued my pursuit and I came across a torrent on The Pirate Bay where someone managed to install and get working a Mac OS X virtual machine for VMware. I downloaded it, unpacked it, ran it and found a real working version, albeit a bit slow and clumsy. The boot times and regular operation were slow, it didn't have all of the beautiful graphics / effects of the normal version and well was barely usable - other than perhaps for the occasion test.

This Virtual Machine version of Mac OS X will work if you don't have a Mac computer to play with, but I do, so this program will officially go into storage. (I don't want to get rid of it.. just in case...)

MacBook iMac Rack Hack for a Dell

Instructables.com has a really cool hack that involves putting your MacBook in a rack and attaching it to the back of your computer monitor. While this wouldn't work for me since I have two Dell monitors that rotate 360* and therefore have an arm in the way, it is a good idea. I also don't think it would work well with my Dell Latitude D820 because it seems a little heavy for the wire rack, but it would be cool to see if I could configure it to work with my port replicator!

I prefer a clean / minimalist looking desk and this hack seems to fit that model pretty well. Check out the article here.

Custom Self-Contained hanging Wall PC

I came across this blog post by Justin of Glowview where he shows off his "hanging wall" PC which is an old laptop mounted into a picture frame. He discusses how he did it and the reasons: using it as a cool digital picture frame with online syncing, file server, backup device, extra display, etc. He says the most difficult thing was trying to find a matte for the frame.

There are no instructions on how to perform the switch, probably since each frame and computer will differ. This could be a really cool project - worth taking on if you have an older working laptop that you don't mind tearing apart (perhaps something that would only fetch 100 bucks on eBay or is just lying around the house). Maybe even a cheap Netbook or Ultra Mobile?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hewlett Packard dv6 1027nr driver problems

I just spent the last few days scrubbing and rebuilding a few new laptops and a desktop for work. It's unfortunate we purchased them retail because they contain the backup operating systems and drivers on separate "recovery partitions" and of course I forgot to create backup discs. I ran into problems with our new Hewlett Packard Pavilion dv6-1027nr Entertainment Notebook PC when I couldn't find two drivers listed here by their Hardware Id: ACPI\HPQ0004 and ACPI\ENE0100.

1. The Hardware ID ACPI\ENE0100 (found in the driver details of device manager) turned out to be the ENE CIR Receiver Driver found here.

2. The Hardware ID ACPI\HPQ0004 on an Microsoft ACPI-Compliant device turned out to be the ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection for Microsoft Windows Vista security software found here.

It's a shame HP doesn't make it's HP Recovery Manager program available for download to those of us who accidentally delete it. HP could also really use an update and driver detection program that will tell you what drivers you're missing - it took me a while to figure these things out.

Updated 6/15/2010:
If I come across anymore ACPI Hardware ID's with hard to find drivers I will post them here. Feel free to leave comments if you find any as well.

Updated 4/17/2011:
The Hardware ID ACPI\MAT0021 on a Panasonic CF-F8 laptop is the Panasonic Misc. Driver. Learn more here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Suunto Vytec Dive Computer

As I contemplate purchasing the new Suunto Vytec Air dive computer, I wanted to reflect on my current dive computer, the Suunto Vytec.

I currently use the original Suunto Vytec, not the Vytec DS, with the wireless transmitter. I originally wanted a wrist top computer because I felt like it would be easier to read and I wouldn't have to worry about it dragging on the floor of the ocean and harming the environment. With my computer and compass on my wrist it would be right in front of my face as I dive around! I looked at a number of wrist top computers with different options but I didn't like the D5 and D9 because they seemed too small and hard to read and it also didn't make sense to get a computer without a wireless transmitter. Why would I want to have all my important information on my wrist except for my pressure gauge (the most important instrument you carry)? True it isn't that difficult to look at a SPG, especially if you currently have a non-wireless computer, but if you are going to remove the computer then why not remove the gauge as well? I figured if I couldn't afford the extra money for the wireless transmitter, then it wasn't worth having the wrist top computer.

The Vytec's display is very simple but contains a lot of useful information like a pressure gauge, depth monitor, alarms for safety stop, battery indicator, max depth and large buttons to change the modes or make configurations. The beauty of having any dive computer resolves to dive log memory and automatic table calculations. A lot of people start to forget how important dive tables can be but the computer always remembers! It comes with a cable for syncing to your computer and the software is fairly easy to use (although I prefer SharkPoint). You can download the software on their website for free and as I had to find out, you can find replacement cables on eBay for less than $50.

While I'm sure this goes for most Suunto dive products, the only downside to the Vytec is the dive software. The problem is that the computer is so great and easy to use that software isn't much to brag about. The interface screen is a little dull, the backup and saving of your database isn't as friendly as it should be and to be honest, it looks like they didn't put much time into designing it. The easiest thing would have been to copy your normal dive log layout and while they tried to, they fell short. All in all, the Vytec is one of the best dive computers I've ever used and as of right now it is my 3rd computer. I've heard good things about replacing the battery, although I've never done this myself.

My motivator for getting a new computer, in this case the Vytec Air, is it has a built in compass and the viewable angle is greater. It also has a little newer design and larger logbook and profile memory. Plus my Vytec is a bit old and I think it's just plain time for an upgrade!

Suunto Vytec Dive Computer features:

  • Not the DS
  • Wireless Transmitter
  • Large Display
  • Great display information – pressure gauge, depth monitor, safety stop alarms, battery indicator, max depth indicator, etc.
  • Large Buttons
  • Easy Sync to Computer
  • Dive Log memory
  • Safety Alarms
  • Three Operating modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge
  • Free PC software, USB cables available on eBay for less than $50
  • Easy to clean
  • User Replaceable battery – never did

Anyone have any suggestions or comments about the Suunto Vytec Dive Computer that I didn't cover? Oh and check out a picture of my computer:




Update on April, 6th 2010:
I've reposted this to my scuba website, SearchNRecovery.com. Check it out here.

Also check out this posting on installing Vytec Dive software on Windows.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Installing Windows 95 on a VMware Virtual Machine

I'm sure you're asking yourself, why would anyone want to run Windows 95 these days? Well, if you're like a coworker of mine it's because you have an old game that you want to play. Or perhaps you're a bit nostalgic and like having things around that remind you of 1995-96. Anyway here is how I installed Windows 95 Second Edition on a VMware virtual machine:

Materials I used:

  1. VMware Workstation 6.05
  2. An "original" Windows 95SE disc
    1. I converted this to an ISO image before I began
  3. Windows 95 Boot Disk image (from http://www.allbootdisks.com/download/95.html)
  4. VMware support reference page: http://www.vmware.com/support/reference/common/guest_win95.html
    1. If you're like me and didn't keep the sticker from your original Gateway 2000!

I started by creating a new virtual machine in VMware Workstation (my version is 6.05), choosing Windows 95 as the operating system. Edit the virtual machines settings. You can keep the settings for Ram and Hard Drive, 64MB and an 8GB respectively. Change the CD ROM drive to reference the ISO image (or choose your drive letter if you didn't convert to an ISO) and for the Floppy drive give the path to the boot disk image. Your Windows 95 CD or image won't boot without the boot disk "in" the floppy drive.

Now start your newly created virtual machine. You should see the machine checking your CD drive, loading drivers (be careful to note if any new drive letters are assigned, my CD changed to R from D) and then you should be given the prompt of your boot device A. Using your Windows Boot Disk run the FDISK command. Follow the on screen instructions to create and partition a primary drive/disk.

Once FDISK is complete restart your virtual machine. When you get back to the boot disk prompt run the command: FORMAT C:

This will format your drive and allow you to assign a name to the drive (name is optional). Remember Windows 95 won't run if you don't format the drive after partitioning. After the formatting is complete you are now ready to run the Windows 95 setup program. You can either run the command directly from your boot device: A:> R:\Win95\Setup or you can switch to the CD Drive and run it there. If you get an error that says something to the effect there is no drive found, check to make sure your virtual machine didn't assign a new drive letter to the CD drive and/or image. I assigned the drive to an image so it gave me a random drive letter "R:" and I found this by watching the boot information.

Before setup starts Scandisk will run and check your disk for potential problems. Then the "original" Windows 95 setup screen will appear and you can proceed with your regular Windows installation process. You will most likely be prompted for a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) and a serial number. You can use the link above to grab an old serial code if, like me, you don't have your original system documentation lying around. Answer the questions as you are prompted. During the installation process I had a few issues with files not being found on the disc, I tried changing the drive letters on my CD Drive but nothing I did seemed to solve the problems. In the end it didn't seem to matter.

With Windows 95SE running, I installed the VMware Tools, then sound drivers, network drivers and display drivers. There you have it – Windows 95 on a VMware Virtual Machine!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Software Rot

A problem software companies seem to battle with is software or code rot. It happens when software suffers from a lack of updates over a period of time with respect to the environments it's used in. It can cause the software to become unstable, loose performance or become irrelevant. Advancements in technology (frameworks, languages, environments) can speed deterioration in the software's relevance, usability and innovation. (Software does not physically deteriorate.)

Software rot can be addressed through the use of refactoring which entails rewriting existing code to make it relevant by updating it's code framework, making it compatible for new Operating Systems, etc. without changing its purpose.

Software can face deterioration over time but still be used in which case it is generally referred to as legacy software, not software rot. Quite a few programs

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Difference between a CIO and CTO

My roommate and I were debating the difference between a CIO and CTO. The Wikipedia entry for CTO, under Contrast with Chief Information Officer says "The focus of a CTO may be contrasted with that of a CIO in that, whereas a CIO is predisposed to solve problems by acquiring and adapting ready-made technologies, a CTO is predisposed to solve problems by developing new technologies. In practice, each will typically blend both approaches.

In an enterprise whose primary technology concerns are addressable by ready-made technologies, a CIO might be the primary representative of technology issues at the executive level. In an enterprise whose primary technology concerns are addressed by developing (and perhaps productising) new technologies, or the general strategic exploitation of intellectual property held by the company, a CTO might be the primary representative of these concerns at the executive level."

Do you agree with that? I do agree that depending on the company, one role may be a little more relevant than the other and in practice each will blend their approaches. When I've worked for larger companies the CIO role is more typical and working for smaller software development shops the CTO role is more typical. Perhaps a CTO role is a bit more organic since they help develop technology while the CIO is the more prepackaged technology. I guess that means a CIO is more likely to use and implement software that is proven while a CTO is more likely to experiment or develop in house.

Either way it's an interesting distinction that would really set apart those in the IT management industry who some day hope to be in a position like this.

CIO = Chief Information Officer
CTO = Chief Technology Officer